A Bayesian Approach to Real-Time Earthquake Phase Association

Monday, 15 December 2014
Harley Benz1, Caryl E Johnson2, Paul S Earle1 and John M Patton1, (1)USGS National Earthquake Information Center Golden, Golden, CO, United States, (2)Introspective Systems LLC, Portland, ME, United States
Real-time location of seismic events requires a robust and extremely efficient means of associating and identifying seismic phases with hypothetical sources. An association algorithm converts a series of phase arrival times into a catalog of earthquake hypocenters. The classical approach based on time-space stacking of the locus of possible hypocenters for each phase arrival using the principal of acoustic reciprocity has been in use now for many years. One of the most significant problems that has emerged over time with this approach is related to the extreme variations in seismic station density throughout the global seismic network. To address this problem we have developed a novel, Bayesian association algorithm, which looks at the association problem as a dynamically evolving complex system of “many to many relationships”. While the end result must be an array of one to many relations (one earthquake, many phases), during the association process the situation is quite different. Both the evolving possible hypocenters and the relationships between phases and all nascent hypocenters is many to many (many earthquakes, many phases). The computational framework we are using to address this is a responsive, NoSQL graph database where the earthquake-phase associations are represented as intersecting Bayesian Learning Networks. The approach directly addresses the network inhomogeneity issue while at the same time allowing the inclusion of other kinds of data (e.g., seismic beams, station noise characteristics, priors on estimated location of the seismic source) by representing the locus of intersecting hypothetical loci for a given datum as joint probability density functions.